01 June 2010

A good reason to leave God?

by Dan Phillips

We have all heard or read stories that end "so after that, I couldn't believe in Christianity anymore."

Many of them are like the story Mike Adams tells of a man who stopped attending church when a close friend's two daughters died tragically in a car accident. "For him, God just couldn’t allow such a thing and still be worthy of worship and praise," Adams writes. (This story has a happy ending; not all do, of course.)

To my wholly subjective impression, this seems to be one of three main kinds of "deconversion stories." Most of these stories are patent fakes, told by someone who clearly had about as much Christian involvement as I have in the government of China. (To wit, I can spell "China." See? C-h-i-n-a.)

Another tries a more rational approach, claiming Science or contradictions or the like.

A third comes from the other direction, telling sad stories that amount to "not feeling it" anymore for one reason or another.

All of the stories have in common that the God of Christianity let the speaker/writer down. And that was that.

Candidly, as I mentioned, I often simply do not believe the speaker or writer. A great many of these stories range from paint-thin rationalizations unable to withstand 23 consecutive seconds of rational analysis, to cut-and-paste alibis. They're concocted or borrowed simply to cover up an overruling love for a particular sin or sin-pattern. And that's just about as deep as it goes.

Observation: the speaker/writer would invariably deny that analysis, insisting on the nobler-seeming, more solid-seeming cover story. But if there's really no God, why bother with a cover? Just get on with it, no explanation necessary. Especially if you really are no more than matter-in-motion in an amoral, careening, meaningless universe. But I digress.

So let's ask: when would it be a good, valid time to leave the God of the Bible? Simple: if He does not keep His promises.

Re-inflect: if He does not keep His promises.

I realize that is a daring statement. But I think God Himself drives us to it when He voluntarily enters into covenant, as we see it in Genesis 15. After all, what is the symbolism of only the smoking fire pot and the flaming torch passing between the pieces of animals? What is God saying when He swears by Himself (cf. Genesis 22:16-18; Isaiah 45:23; Hebrews 6:13ff.)?

All of the sad stories I've heard or read, by contrast, amount to this: I left God because He did not meet my expectations. Let's try on a few of the more popular specifics:
  1. Death might be a good reason to leave God if He had promised that men and women would never die. He did not.
  2. A tragic death might be a good reason to leave God if He promised to prevent all tragic deaths. He has not.
  3. Any death might be a good reason to leave God if He lacked the right to deal out both life and death. He does not.
  4. Misfortune might be a good reason to leave God if He promised His children, let alone everyone, exemption from misfortune. He does not.
  5. Inexplicable (by us) tragedy might be a good reason to leave God if He promised to prevent all such tragedies from happening. He does not.
  6. Hard events befalling believers of which no sense can immediately be made, and in which no good can immediately be seen, might be a good reason to leave God if He promised that such would never happen. He does not.
  7. Apparent contradictions in Scripture, even ones for which we've found no solution, might be a good reason to leave God if He promised that all Scripture would be simple, and equally immediately transparent to every reader. He does not.
  8. Lack of evidence that forces the unwilling to convert against their will might be a good reason to leave God (A) if such were even definitionally possible, and (B) if God promised to provide such. He does not.
  9. Lack of evidence that no one can possibly pervert, ignore, twist nor deny might be a good reason (A) if such were even definitionally possible, and (B) if God promised to provide such. He does not.
  10. God's failure to meet expectations we put on Him might be a good reason if He promised to be the servant of our expectations. To say the least, He does not.
I know the dogged disbeliever's response to this, because I've heard it: "You're stacking it in such a way that there is no denying the God of the Bible. You're saying we should just believe God because He says we should."

To that, this:
  1. Assuming that God is as the Scripture says He is, what would you expect? And
  2. Assuming that God is as the Scripture says He is, to what higher authority could any appeal be made?
Since Genesis 3:6, fallen humanity's agenda has been the pursuit of one goal: to make the world safe for sin.

It is a goal that will surely and certainly fail in the end.

The Christian is the person who is led by God's grace to admit and embrace that truth now, thus doing willingly what all will do one day.

That's the difference. Saying it out loud is about the most offensive thing the unbelieving ear can hear, because it rips the cover right off of his dearest, doomed, damned aspiration.

But that's our calling.

Dan Phillips's signature

64 comments:

Chad V. said...

One I've heard is this;

Complaint;
"God promises to give me the desires of my heart and he didn't." (Psalm 37:4)

Answer;
Yes but he said he would do so if you delighted yourself in Him and clearly what you want God to give you is the freedom to delight in your own sin.

Like your said DJP, it's usually just a cover for an excuse to sin.

James Wilson said...

Thanks for posting this. This goes right along with a blog I finished on Saturday (to be published on 6/11) on "The Night Langston Hughes Cried." A sad personal account of his disillusionment during a revival.

Garry said...

Dan:

Great post.

With such a great tragedy occurring years ago in my life, I came to this question, which is the same asked by Peter after many disciples left Jesus:

Where am I going to go? You have the words of eternal life!

Fred Butler said...

I personally like the way the ESV translates Proverbs 19:3:

When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.

So true.

Phil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil said...

Excellent post. Cuts right to the heart of the problem.
I imagine Demas had a similar shallow sob story about why he left Paul, but Paul just gives the simple truth "loved this world"

SteveFB said...

When we approach unto the Word of God, we are undone, plain and simple. If anything in our lives is NOT seen as wretched and weak and beggarly, it is something we cherish far more than we cherish the One who alone is worthy of such devotion.

Upon realizing that truth, we either (saved people) abandon the lesser desire that we might know Christ OR (the unsaved) abandon our terra-cotta false "Jesus" for our lusts.

No other way to see it.

Matt said...

"Since Genesis 3:6, fallen humanity's agenda has been the pursuit of one goal: to make the world safe for sin"

Never heard it put that way, but I like it. Good post. I definitely think that this issue extends beyond the unbeliever for whom tragedy has struck. I believe that it has crept in much of evangelical circles. So many of us live a gospel life that DOES NOT translate into any other part of the world. We flutter around in our little safe "christian" american lives. We pursue the same things that this decadent world around us does, but we go to church and we live "blessed" lives. (I do not minimize the grace of our Lord or His blessings) but I heard a story about a young house-church pastor in china who teaches thousands around various villages in the country. The missionaries who told this story said that this young pastor was in amazing physical shape and he preached with unbridled passion. Why? Because he believed in his Saviour knowing that he would eventually follow his father into the labor camps because of his faith. And he wanted to be in great physical shape so that he would be able to survive the labor camp and not die right away! My question to myself has been: Do I believe the Sovereign God of the Bible in the same way this young pastor does? Does my Christian/gospel life translate into that lifestyle of holiness? Or is my view of God more shaped by my surroundings than it is by the Word of God? Do I fear the God of Job 12? (really all of Job ;-))

DJP, thanks for your post and may we all test ourselves to see if we are indeed in the faith!

His grace!
Matt

Chris H said...

My only problem with this post is that it's so ambiguous and unclear...

/sarcasm

Fred Butler said...

In a related article, Newsweek has THIS report about when pastors abandon the ministry. Just scanning the names they invoke, a few of them could hardly be considered "pastors" who abandoned the ministry. Dan Barker is mentioned and I think he ran a youth group or something at an AoG church.

Barbara said...

Chad V said,

One I've heard is this;

Complaint;
"God promises to give me the desires of my heart and he didn't." (Psalm 37:4)


Well yeah, that's just part and parcel with the state of death. I remember coming to the place where I was so angry at God for everything that I was shaking my fist in His face, wanting with everything in me to not believe in Him anymore...but even in that same moment He broke the uplifted arm and caused me to see His face and trust Him enough to just fall at His feet.

While what you say is true, I think we have to be very careful not to suggest it in a way that seems as if we are somehow "better than" they.

Because all we are, and all we'll ever be, are recipients of God's amazing grace.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Another reason: If we know better how the universe should work, which we do not.

(Sure wish I knew how to use HTML tags, but alas...no omniscience on my part.)

Very good subject.

And just for fun, my word verification is:

"upendo"

;o)

Rhology said...

Very nice. And very meat chub.

Robert Warren said...

Thanks, Dan.

Every time I think about Gen 15, it becomes more beautiful.

I think many of the "former" Christians such as the ones you describe are examples of De-conversion Exaggeration Syndrome.

Committed Christian said...

I heard this one before, "I stopped being a Christian because so and so died". And the person was so bitter that it was sad to see that they wrote off God, the only one that could give them joy and peace, because of something that we all face because we live in a sinful world. But for some reason this sort of rejection of God just makes me angry, probably because the reason is probably given as a cover for their delight in sin.

Committed Christian

Luke Leppla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sven Pook said...

Great post!!!!!!!!! Man wants to have it their way as though God is the proprietor of some cosmic Burger King.

A couple years ago, a co-worker lost her daughter to murder, then her son to an auto accident as he rushed home from college to comfort his mother. All within 24 hours . . . on Mother's Day.

The local ministry, IMO, dropped the ball by acting as though God didn't hold the whole thing in His hands. Treating it as though God had no way of stopping the events from taking place.

What comfort can we have in this world if God is not in control. He is saving us not from a bumpy flight, but to a safe landing.

I think this kind of fits:
I have been having a long distance conversation with a synergist. His most recent request was that I explain Hebrews 6:4-6. I wish I had my entire response in front of me, but the gist was that he was taking a couple of verses and not looking at the context of the preceeding and proceeding verses.

It seemed to me that the writer of Hebrews went on to an illustration of the rain watering both the thorns and briers as well as "useful crops." Common Grace.

I pointed out that Hebrews was directed at Jewish believers and they were dealing with Judaizers who were, in effect, denying Christ with their stress at continuing with the ceremonial law.

Hope I got it right, I chose not to look at any commentaries instead relying on prayer for inspiration. I haven't heard from him, but I'm sure that he is crafting his response.

@ Fred Butler:
I "ran" a youth program at an AoG church, and want to point out that God can reach even someone in the AoG to become a monergist (c;

It was reading Romans over and over that made me realize that the AoG had a doctrinal problem.

donsands said...

I had an atheist say, "It's because of people like you, that I left the Church."

I simply shared the Gospel, the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. And maybe I said a couple stupid things, but I have learned these are manipulative words.

Thnaks for the great post.

DJP said...

Oh yeah, that's a common one. I think it didn't come to mind because it's such a patently stupid, lazy-minded dodge.

Gov98 said...

Ahhhhhhh

runs around screaming head about to explode...don't go off on rabbit trail don't go off on rabbit trail.

I am SO totally with you Dan. SO totally with you!

Stefan said...

Well, I brought up the question of the fear of God elsewhere yesterday, but again, if one truly fears God and knows that one's only hope is in the atoning death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, then why would a true believer ever abandon his or her faith? Even in their deepest, darkest moments of despair, they will cling to the knowledge that Christ died for them and shed His blood for them, and that the blood of Christ alone is enough.

For all my Calvinistic platitudes about God ordaining all things—both good and evil—Christ's death for my sins never seemed more precious than when I shook my fist at God in prayer once a year ago, fell into fear for my soul, and lost all assurance of salvation, until I rediscovered the simple promise of Romans 10:28.

Stefan said...

"...Even in their deepest, darkest moments of despair (or especially in their deepest, darkest moments of despair), they will cling to the knowledge that Christ died for them and shed His blood for them, and that the blood of Christ alone is enough. For without Christ, what other hope is there for the soul in distress?

Peter Eddy said...

Whoa! No dissenters yet. Great job, Dan!

The doubts I occasionally face usually involve apparent paradoxes of logic in theology (e.g., the absolute sovereignty of God similtaneously being held true with the responsibility of man for his sin). How would you classify someone who leaves the faith because he has a low tolerance for mystery? I can't think of an instance when this happened in a vacuum (i.e., usually a person will give these arguments to hide the fact he left because he fell into a sin or sins that he didn't want to leave), though, so maybe no such cases exist. I will grant, though, that these doubts do come at times when I feel spiritually low and think that being of the world would solve my lowness.

Completely aside: My word verification was "phill."

stratagem said...

Death might be a good reason to leave God, if death were the end of life - but it isn't.

DJP said...

Peter Eddy - it's been quiet.

It just really seems to me that anyone too put off by mystery needs to look up "G-o-d" again. The more I learn and (I hope) grow, the more fundamental I see Proverbs 1:7 to be. The fear of Yahweh truly, genuinely is the beginning of knowledge.

Draw a circle in the infinite. Maybe it's a big circle. How much is outside it?

Infinity.

Triple the size of the circle. How much is outside now?

Infinity.

Knowing God is like that.

Sir Aaron said...

Sven:

I do believe that many do a poor job in representing Christ during great trajedies such as the one you described. Ilwe either fail to show genuine compassion and grief for such a person because "God is in control" or we fail neuter God's sovereignty by making him uninvolved in the details.

Still, it's an emotional response to leave the faith not a thought out theological position. My mother used to say, you'd cut your nose off to spite your face.". (obviously, I was a "strong willed" child.)

Sir Brass said...

Dan, I don't think that atheist dodge is a dodge at all. I think it's the straight-up honest truth.

The guy shared the gospel with the atheist. The GOSPEL is what drove the atheist away from the church :).

Christ did the same thing. Went from 5,000+ in one day to around 12. I'd call that the "church shrinkage" movement.

Don't want Christ but want religiosity? We'll be happy to drive you away. We'll just preach the gospel (and the law to show you why you need the gospel) to you.

It's b/c of the gospel that atheists leave the church, and it's better that way.

Sonja said...

Thanks Dan, really thoughtful and thought provoking. And brings back to mind experiences with people who "suffered well" and those who didn't. And what witnesses the former are!

I like to collect John Stott quotes, here's one:

"I am not guaranteed immunity to temptation, tribulation or tragedy, but I am promised victory over them. God's pleddge is not that suffering will never afflict me, but that it will never seperate me from His love."

And Isa 45:3 and 7 also come to mind. I am the Lord who does all these. Sovereign He is indeed.

BrettR said...

God never brakes his promises that he has made to me yet I still lust for the idols in my life that break their promises all the time. My heart is somehow swayed by the over-promise/under-deliver lust rather than focusing on the God who died to fulfill/keep/deliver all His promises.

I repent.

donsands said...

"The GOSPEL is what drove the atheist away from the church :)." -Sir Brass

Yep.

The Gospel drives the Greek away, because he says it's folly. It drives the religious world away, because, "where do my good works fit in".

The point I was making is that this person said to me, personally, "It's because of Christians like you, that I'm not a Christian." And it stings at first. I'm not very thick-skinned anyhow.

I have learned that there is a fine art of manipulating goin' on in this world, and in the Church. And I'm included in that mix. But by God's grace, and people who love me, I'm able to confront my own.

Sven Pook said...

I forgot to mention why I brought up the story of the woman who lost both of her children. A day or 2 after the memorial service, I spoke with one of the Pastors that had spoken. I told him that he was not doing anyone any good avoiding the fact that God is in control, he told me, "If God could allow such horrific things to happen, I couldn't be a Christian any longer."

He told me that God is only watching, not interacting with His world. Complete deist thought, scary, no wonder he felt that he could leave Christ.

@Sir Aaron; I have carried on a good relationship with the woman who lost her children (we both report to the hospital CFO) and she really appreciates that I never sugarcoated what the Bible has to say. Some day, she may join her daughter (we're pretty sure she was a Christian) with the Lord in heaven. I pray so, anyway.

@Sonja:
Loved the John Stott quote.

DJP said...

...he told me, "If God could allow such horrific things to happen, I couldn't be a Christian any longer."

Well, there you go. Who's controlling that relationship? Who's the lord and master and arbiter of truth?

The fear of Yahweh, I tell you. I its absolutely foundational.

Harper said...

None of these are reasons to not believe in God; they are simply complaints AGAINST God. So, since *I* don't like the way God runs HIS Universe, I am going to deem him to not exist. Sounds like the thinking of a four-year old... "I hate you, you're not my mommy!"

@Garry: perfect.
That is pretty much my apologetic: "Where else would I go?"

Sven Pook said...

@DJP:
This seems to be the predominant belief of the leadership of every church in our area. OK, so perhaps I am exaggerating a little, but it is very frustrating.

Sir Aaron said...

@Harper:

I was thinking the same thing. It's like a little kid who doesn't get his way.

God tells us that Adam and Eve sinned thereby bringing death into the world. We inherited the sinful condition and thus we also die. So whose fault is the terrible things that happen? That God doesn't smite us all and instead elects some of us to be saved is a testament to His greatness.

DJP said...

Well don't you guys get just exactly that feeling, reading most of their rants? And this juvenile practice of not capitalizing the proper noun "God" — like "I'll show Daddy he's not the boss of me!" Only succeeding in looking like illiterates with serious personal issues.

Stefan said...

Don:

It's possible (at least in some cases—this may be true in your example as well) that what the atheist is driven away by is not the Gospel, but by religiosity masquerading as a false gospel. (Meanwhile, religiosity is drive away by the Gospel!)

Maybe my own atheist-agnostic testimony is a minority case, but when I learned what the true Gospel is, I discovered that what I'd rejected as "Christianity" for so many years was a manmade religion masquerading as biblical faith.

donsands said...

"..what the atheist is driven away by is not the Gospel, but by religiosity masquerading as a false gospel." -Stefan

I agree with that for sure.

The atheist I'm talking about is actually someone I'm still discussing the truth with. He is quite smart, and yet simply rejects the truth of Jesus rising from the dead.

I shared Dr. Luke's 2nd letter with him; the first 4 verses that is, and 1st and 2nd Peter, and he came to the conclusion that Peter loved Jesus so much, that he was hallucinating.

So, there are times of emotional outbursts of unbelief, which actually give evidence that the Gospel is the truth.
And then there are times of kicking things back and forth.

And in between I try and pray to our Lord of the harvest for His mercy to be poured out, as He did for me.

I told this atheist, if he ever did come to Christ, and ask for forgiveness of his sins, and trusted in Him, that he would know joy as he never thought, and peace with out comprehension, and love as it was meant to be. And also, genuine sorrow, that is deeper than you could imagine.

His name is Jim, if you would like to pray for him.

Mike Erich the Mad Theologian said...

I think one of the great problems especially in our modern hedonistic times is getting past the idea that God and the universe are there for my benefit. I know it certainly is with me. But as I realize that God is God and I am his servant that all these excuses become meaningless. Who am I to tell God what He can and cannot do in the world and in my life. Easy to write but sometimes hard to remember when the test comes.

CR said...

One of my favorite reasons I've heard is: I left the Christian faith because so and so said he was a Christian, and he was a hypocrite, and some of these Christians do really bad things. Funny, I have not met people who say the samething about a political party, or a job or something. So and so says he's a Christian, he did a bad thing, I'm leaving Christianity.

CR said...

In other words, people don't just leave a political party or an occupation or particular study, just because they met one ore more persons who have done really bad things. It only applies to Christianity.

yankeerev said...

Here is another reason:
If God were a Manchester United Fan...that would be enough...

Aaron said...

What if I were to author a post entitled "A Good Reason To Believe in God?" that was a rant about how all Christians believe in God simply because they're emotionally-crippled children who need a cosmic boo-boo kisser to absolve their guilt and hold their world together? What if I were to not even once address the evidence for God? You would be outraged, right?

Now, I don't believe this. I believe that (in the majority of cases) Christians believe in God and the Bible because it is the truth as best as they can reason and ascertain.

I was a Christian. I believed and not only that, but desired and strove to live out my faith and show my love for Jesus as best I could. I never once faulted God for not keeping promises. I figured that no matter what happened, it was part of God's plan. I didn't turn away because I felt let down or disappointed. My experience with Christianity and other Christians was mostly positive. I didn't desire a sin so much that I wasn't willing to lay it on the altar. I would've never given up my friend, the lover of my soul, so I could have my carnal "fun".

I stopped believing because the evidence against the Bible and the God of that book became too overwhelming to ignore. Because the evidence for it became too weak to stand. Losing my faith was a painful and ugly process. I never would have given up my faith for the reasons that you cited because I agree with you on the count that those reasons are stupid.

There are certainly selfish reasons to reject a belief in God, but there also exist selfish reasons to believe in God. There's no doubt in my mind there are plenty of Christians as well as atheists/agnostics that believe what they do for selfish reasons.
But let's not throw everyone into the same pot. Let's try to have an honest conversation of mutual respect and a desire for understanding instead of this childish demonizing.

SandMan said...

Aaron wrote:
I stopped believing because the evidence against the Bible and the God of that book became too overwhelming to ignore. Because the evidence for it became too weak to stand.

In case you missed the 4-5 paragraphs that deal "honestly with your objections," I thought I'd pull them out for you.

DJP wrote this:
Another tries a more rational approach, claiming Science or contradictions or the like.

And this:
Observation: the speaker/writer would invariably deny that analysis, insisting on the nobler-seeming, more solid-seeming cover story. But if there's really no God, why bother with a cover?

And this:
Apparent contradictions in Scripture, even ones for which we've found no solution, might be a good reason to leave God if He promised that all Scripture would be simple, and equally immediately transparent to every reader. He does not. [Image] Lack of evidence that forces the unwilling to convert against their will might be a good reason to leave God (A) if such were even definitionally possible, and (B) if God promised to provide such. He does not. Lack of evidence that no one can possibly pervert, ignore, twist nor deny might be a good reason (A) if such were even definitionally possible, and (B) if God promised to provide such. He does not. God's failure to meet expectations we put on Him might be a good reason if He promised to be the servant of our expectations. To say the least, He does not. I know the dogged disbeliever's response to this, because I've heard it: "You're stacking it in such a way that there is no denying the God of the Bible. You're saying we should just believe God because He says we should."

And this:
To that, this:
Assuming that God is as the Scripture says He is, what would you expect? And Assuming that God is as the Scripture says He is, to what higher authority could any appeal be made? Since Genesis 3:6, fallen humanity's agenda has been the pursuit of one goal: to make the world safe for sin.

SandMan said...

DJP wrote this:
Another tries a more rational approach, claiming Science or contradictions or the like.


For the record, Aaron, you barely did this, even. You made a weak assertion "that all those contradictions" ruined your faith.

Seems as if you believe that saying biblical contradictions exist makes God go away.

God is no more God because I believe in Him, and no less God because you don't.

It seems clear that you have made up your mind, but don't pretend that no answer has been given to your objection.

Further, Dan asked a valid question. If you truly believe in the depth of your being that there is no God, why hang out here at a Christian blog asking all of us to buy into your story? Do you suppose that we can offer you some kind of absolution? Or, do you get some kind of atheist points for trying to spread the "good news" that your faith is dead?

If you are truly seeking help, then repent of your arrogance toward God and cry out for mercy from Jesus Christ, and be truly converted.

But if reading that sentence makes you jeer, why not get outside and carpe diem? Death is coming for us all and you are wasting precious time here debating the One you have already decided to reject.

DJP said...

Not a lot to add to Sandman's response except to say that if you find these reasons childish, take it up with the atheists and their ilk who I see hiding behind them every day all over the public square. The list could have been longer, true; but it never would have been prettier.

Daryl said...

It's interesting how we people think, isn't it.

I worked with an architect who claimed that he didn't believe because Christians never think for themselves. They're always turning to the Bible.

Yet, as I pointed out, this "free-thinking" architect, does nothing without making sure it complies with the building code...

He never saw the connection, or, more likely, he already knew the connection and stuck to his guns so he could feel better about his unbelief.

Isaac said...

Aaron: "Losing my faith was a painful and ugly process."

But a necessary one, right? And if what you now believe is actually true, how can it be ugly?

Why adopt a tone of lament? You haven't lost anything that is worth crying over. Christianity and, indeed, even belief in God is of no worth if it isn't true.

Mark B. Hanson said...

The strangest reason I ever heard an unbeliever give for his unbelief was that once when he was seven he prayed that God would send warm snow, and He didn't. Therefore God did not exist, since he wouldn't answer the simple prayer of a child.

The guy was 20 or so at the time he told me this. And no answer I gave would shake his unbelief.

That Crazy Christian said...

Well done Dan.

Sven Pook said...

@Aaron;
You said I didn't desire a sin so much that I wasn't willing to lay it on the altar. Yet the sin of denying Christ isn't one you are willing to lay on the alter?

I for one would really like to discuss the "evidence against the Bible and the God of that book became too overwhelming to ignore." I am sure that the readers here could help.

Please, though, skip the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" analogy, that one is far to easy to refute. Let's have that "honest conversation of mutual respect" and get to the bottom of your rejection of God.

In the end, what we will probably find is that you never had heart belief as Paul writes in Romans 10:9-10 "because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (ESV)

The heart belief is what I lacked for years as an atheist, I discounted the Bible as fables and contridictions, that it ran counter to science . . . then God stepped in and did what only He can do, He took "the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh," Ezekiel 11:19 (ESV)

Amazing that I then saw the Bible as a cohesive work that stood whenever challenged. Amazing what He can do!

You spoke about how you "desired and strove to live out my faith." Only God can give someone the strength to live out their faith, no amount of striving from our wicked unregenerate hearts can accomplish this.

I, for one, will be in prayer for you.

Sir Aaron said...

but desired and strove to live out my faith and show my love for Jesus as best I could.

And yet, as soon as the Sun came up your faith wilted like a plant who hasn't taken root. Your mere presence is proof that there is a God. You wouldn't look at a 747 and wonder how that got put together. And yet you can say there is no God after looking at something as infinately complex as the Universe? All those complex systems moving in perfect harmony...any slight deviation causing total destruction.

What evidence could we possibly give you if you wont believe your own eyes? If you believe there is no God, you might as well believe a 747 was created from a tornado in a junkyard. And if you believe that there's no amount of evidence I could use to convince you.

Jim Pemberton said...

Brilliant article, Dan!

Stefan said...

Don:

Thanks. I'll try to remember him in my prayers.

Sven:

You were a rank atheist, too? God truly can work miracles a man's heart, can't he?

Sven Pook said...

@Stefan:
Yep, and there was nothing anyone could ever say or do that would change my mind. Of course, God works on the heart first!! :)

round.tuit said...

Do I become frustrated by those in the Church - yes; with God - NO.

kiramethyst said...

Thanks for sharing. I agree that our disappointment in God stems from us wanting Him to meet us on our terms and expectations. But that also means we never really knew God.

Zaphon said...

"You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God"

John 6:67-68

Josh said...

It is nice to have simple categories to lump things into, like anyone leaving the faith "loved the world." Non-Christians can lump Christians into categories that way, like "found more comfort in a delusion than facing the truth," or something like that. It would be equally wrong to do so.

As Aaron wrote above, yes, there are many shallow deconversion stories, and there are just as many shallow conversion stories. It is nice everyone here can lump others into a box and judge their experiences. Just the responses to Aaron's comment show that. His comment was thought out and gracious.


"...if you find these reasons childish, take it up with the atheists and their ilk..."

In other words, "Take your disagreement with the post somewhere else!" This is quite an echo chamber in here. As soon as someone comes along with a different perspective he is slammed, followed by a few, "amens."

DJP said...

So, how would you advise responding to lazy, shallow reading such as yours in a "helpful" way, Josh? You aren't really trying so much as dodging.

"Nice" has nothing to do with it. The ability and need to categorize is part of how God made us, and is essential to fulfilling our created role (Genesis 1:26-28). It's "nice" that the alphabet is divided into various letters too, I suppose. It's also just the way it is.

Context is also important in understanding what you read. It's really a skill worth working at. What was the context of the response "if you find these reasons childish, take it up with the atheists and their ilk..."? Hint: nothing to do with echo-chambers.

CR said...

Aaron,

There can be "overwhelming" evidence against the Bible because the Bible can only be spiritually understood and discerned. The Bible is not primarily intellectual, it is spiritual. That doesn't mean it doesn't involve the intellect or the mind, it it does.

It is hidden from you and those from whom you read this "overwhelming" evidence against it. Why? Well, the testimony of Scripture is very clear: you are blinded by the god of this world lest you believe in the gospel. (2 Cor 4:3-4). Now, Aaron, you may not like me throwing you into this one pot, but I don't have a choice because the testimony of Scripture throws you and everyone else who don't believe in the gospel into this pot.

CR said...

Sorry, meant to say there can NOT be overwhelming evidence.

Halcyon said...

Don't you just love the type of troll that comes in sounding all sweet and understanding so that they can tell you how much of a jackass you are?

James S said...

It's so simple. They went out from us because they were not of us.

If someone stops being a christian, they were never a christian to start with, no matter what they say.